Sunday, December 1, 2019

Fefu and Her Friends

Fefu and Her Friends
Theatre for a New Audience
Polansky Shakespeare Center
November 29, 2019

Photo courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience
Theatre for a New Audience’s production of María Irene Fornés’ Fefu and Her Friends is riveting.  The integrated cast of women deliver highly skilled and powerful performances.  They bring dimension to Ms. Fornés’ phenomenally drawn characters.  Director Lileana Blaine-Cruz illuminates the detail and intimacy in every moment, building the action to its shocking and unexpected ending.

The year is 1935.  Fefu (played by Amelia Workman) is having a luncheon for seven of her college alumni, socially conscious friends.  They gather in her New England estate to plan the group’s upcoming lecture/presentation.  They are an eclectic group of women.  The bond between them is very strong, yet at the same time, strained.  Each one holds a deep seeded pain or sense of loss that incite various levels of compassion and fear throughout the group.  They gain little comfort from sharing their stories, yet continually seek reassurance from one another’s companionship.

Photo courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience
María Irene Fornés’ broke ground with this play, when it was first presented in 1978, by having the audience split into smaller groups and follow the characters to four different locations in Fefu’s estate.  These four scenes take place simultaneously, and are therefore performed four times.  The audience can hear the other scenes, just as if people are talking in nearby rooms.  The scenes are precisely timed, as the characters enter and exit the four locations.  Scenic design by Adam Rigg efficiently utilizes the space, while immersing the audience in the rich setting of Fefu’s 1935 New England estate.  What was groundbreaking in 1978 remains stunning and unique forty-one years later.  Ms. Fornés’ themes and social commentary remain relevant and ring with truth to a present-day audience.

Ameleia Workman & Jennifer Lim
Photo courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience 
The cast spectacularly portrays individual characters with rich back stories, driven by longing.  There are strong performances by Brittany Bradford, Juliana Canfield, Helen Cespedes, Jennifer Lim, Ronette Levenson, Lindsay Rico, Amelia Workman, and Carmen Zilles.  Fefu and Her Friends is playing downtown Brooklyn at Theatre for a New Audience through December 8.  Check it out!

Domenick Danza

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